For some people, libraries conjure up an image of ancient books lining dusty shelves; these people may be discouraged from using library resources as a result. Others contrast a library unfavorably with the Internet as a research tool. Libraries do, however, boast a number of advantages and don’t even need to take a physical form: electronic libraries can store thousands of resources, for instance.
Libraries don’t have to be public buildings filled with stacks of books. Libraries in the 21st century can consist of electronically stored texts accessed via databases. These texts stay in one place and so nothing needs reshelving, and they’re easy to search through. Since records of texts in these libraries are accessed via computers, people looking for a specific author or for texts based around a particular subject can easily be referred to texts they’ll be interested in.
Staff Help Out
Whether in a school library or a larger city library, people searching through a library’s resources benefit from the assistance of the building’s staff. A head librarian will be present in even the smallest of libraries, while bigger libraries feature teams of volunteers or paid staff who can help individuals with inquiries or recommend books. Library staff help to interpret information and explain concepts, such as how the information in the library is organized.
Cataloging Allows Organization
Libraries, whether traditional or electronic, are always cataloged. This task is performed by trained professionals; the catalog will reflect the library’s nature and intended uses. For example, a college library will be cataloged with researching students and academics in mind. This catalog is then inputted into a computer so library users can then find anything in the library with a search. This advantage stands a library in contrast to the Internet, where finding a resource can be more time-consuming.
Some texts and other resources are simply not available in an electronic format. This is often the case with limited-edition print journals or texts from centuries ago. An individual wishing to look at these resources must visit a traditional library to do so.
When a library is contained in a building that’s open to the public, access to the library’s resources is restricted by the amount of time the library can be physically open. Public libraries have operating hours; if an individual arrives too late, she won’t be able to access the library’s resources. People are restricted too by the amount of time they can spend with a resource, since each must be returned to the library within a set period of time.
Updating the Library
In a traditional library, the facility’s usefulness can on occasion be restricted by the time it takes to be updated. Books that have been returned need to be placed back on shelves by staff, while new resources must be cataloged and allocated shelf space before being available. So a library may not necessarily have access to the latest information.